On Sunday, Aug. 28, the “2011 MTV Video Music Awards” pays tribute to British singer Amy Winehouse, who died July 23 at the age of 27.
Winehouse joined a long list of musicians who died at that age — including Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and bluesman Robert Johnson — but introducing the remembrance is one of popular music’s enduring stars, Tony Bennett, making his first appearance on the VMA stage since 1993.
“Wow,” 31-year-old singer/songwriter Sara Bareilles says to Zap2it when told of the Winehouse segment of the awards. “That’s amazing. I think that’s amazing.”
The VMA tribute features footage from Winehouse’s session with Bennett this past March at Abbey Road Studios in London to record “Body and Soul” for Bennett’s upcoming “Duets II” album, due out Sept. 20.
Columbia Records is set to release the single and video of “Body and Soul” on Sept. 14, Winehouse’s birthday, in support of the Amy Winehouse Foundation.
Singer/pianist Bareilles has sold over a million records worldwide and has been nominated thrice for Grammy Awards. On Sept. 19, she makes her debut as a judge on NBC’s a cappella competition show “The Sing-Off,” replacing Nicole Scherzinger, who has moved on to FOX’s “The X Factor.”
Apparently Bennett was a hero of Winehouse’s — the MTV press release quotes him as calling Winehouse “one of the most honest musicians I have ever known” — and when asked about her own musical heroes, Bareilles says, “I love Tony Bennett. If I’m going to pick a female singer, in the jazz world, it’s Sarah Vaughn or Ella Fitzgerald. I love Aretha. It doesn’t get better than Aretha.
“In terms of contemporary singers, I really love what Adele is doing as a vocalist. Beyonce‘s one of my favorites, too.”
As to how she’s been able to have a music career without suffering the substance-abuse issues that plagued Winehouse, Bareilles says, “It’s partially my upbringing, and I’ve always been really disinterested in that world, the rock ‘n roll lifestyle. It’s interesting, but it’s never really been intoxicating to me. I never really got bit by the bug and needed to experiment. It’s always felt like another world to me.
“I’m super-boring, that’s why I’m not really at risk for some of that stuff.”
Bareilles is also not fond of the quasi-mythical status afforded to musicians who died young, in particular those who died at 27.
“There’s Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix,” she says. “It’s very sad. It’s a shame when it turns into this idolatry. I don’t think that’s accurate. We celebrate them as artists, but I don’t think that it should be romanticized, the fact that they died young. That’s just really sad.”
After all, while the artists’ record sales may see a temporary bump, Bareilles points out, “for a short period of time. Then there’s no more music coming out.”